Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And then I became a Marathoner

(Because a half marathon is still a marathon)

There were some great things about this race. There were some really not great things about this race. The biggest thing is...I did it. I crossed the finish line at 3:31:05. I ran all but probably a half mile of it. And I feel every one of those miles.
More than anything, this was a learning experience. I learned a lot about what works for me, what doesn't, and what a good race should be.

Zooma Race Series, Atlanta at Lake Lanier Islands. April 22, 2012

We got there with plenty of time to spare. There was plenty of parking and we got right in and started the short walk down to the starting line. Now, right before we arrived, my husband asked if I needed to stop anywhere before hand. I SHOULD have stopped for the bathroom. But I didn't. So I ended up standing in line for close to 30 mins for the porta potty. You would think at a women's race, they would have had more, but they didn't.

I finished there with just enough time to walk across the parking lot, find my start group, kiss my husband and start running.

Right out of the starting gate, I saw a tall, beautiful, black girl breezy effortlessly by me. I knew it had to be Tes, founder of RunningNerds, and inspiration to many. I wanted to yell out to her, but the opportunity had been missed. She was in the zone, and probably wouldn't have heard me anyway.

Mile 1-4: Out of the parking lot, down the road to the clock tower and onto the bridge. This is where I encountered my first car issue. Two cars tried to cut off runners to get across the bridge. I think the idea was to have one lane for runners and one for cars, and the cars take turns going across the bridge in opposite directions. Only, they had no one there to direct that, so as the runners, still in large groups, since we hadn't reached a mile yet, were fighting for position against cars. So, these two cars that didn't want to wait for the truck coming in the opposite direction, decided to muscle the runners over so they could get across the bridge. I was able to get myself in front of one of them, then ran down the middle of the lane, blocking his way, so he was forced to slow down and yield to the runners. It's a sore spot with me, since I've had more than my fair share of car run ins while running around town
When we crossed the bridge, the lanes opened up and there was plenty of room for everyone. Through the front gate and around the flags and up the hill I had heard about before the race. "Bulldog bite". It wasn't that bad, I didn't think.
It was sometime around here, either on the bridge or this hill, that I saw Tes again. She was coming in the other direction. I watched her, trying to catch her eye. She was still in her zone. The moment I thought I had lost my opportunity, she looked at me and recognition flashed across her face. We had less than a moment to acknowledge each other and keep on moving.
Back down the hill and back through the gates, across the bridge, and heading back towards where we came from. Around mile 3, I saw my husband. It took me by surprise because I hadn't expected him to wait. I thought he would leave, then come back closer to my finish time.
Immediately after passing him, I saw two girls in RunningNerds 5k shirts. They saw my orange RunningNerds shirt and immediately starting pointing at their shirts and cheering me on.
I've never met these girls before, I don't even know their names, but their cheering for me meant everything to me. I would see them a couple more times through the race, and every time they would yell out "Go running nerd!!"
Heading to mile 4, was the big hill through the water park. I wasn't looking forward to going back up this one.

Mile 4-7: I found this stretch to be really dull and boring. It was out by the campsites and was just dull, dull, dull. It depressed me to think I had to come back through here a second time. Mile 5 was the turn around point, and I was still feeling good. I joked to the volunteers standing there to "Please tell me there are people behind me".

Miles 7-10 was a repeat of what I had already done. Back up the hill by the water park. Made it to the top and enjoyed the release my legs were feeling. Back across the bridge and around the flags and back up "Bulldog Bite" and around the parking lot and back down.
At this point, I was approaching mile 10, and I felt myself giving in, mentally.My head wanted to just be done already. I had been running for nearly 2 and a half hours by this point. I was tired. My knees were protesting, my hip was starting to join the conversation. I started to break, just a little. Passing water stations, I found volunteers packing up (or sleeping in come cases). It was a little defeating. Like they were trying to hurry us up, so they could be done. Or maybe it was just me, and the head space I was in at the time.
I saw my husband again around mile 10. He came over and tried to give me a pep talk. I didn't want to hear it, but I took it, because I knew he was trying. I was trying really hard to hold my shit together at that point. I really wanted to get through this thing without crying.

Mile 10-12: Back down that damn hill. My knees screaming the whole way. Once I got to 10.5 miles, I let myself walk for a bit. My plan had been to run to 10 miles, then do my intervals. By the time I got there, though, I completely through intervals out the window. I walked until I felt guilty for walking, then ran until I couldn't pick up my feet. I was going back through that dull, boring patch.
The volunteers at this point were just as bored as I was, I guess. They were texting, and one water station was completely packed up and abandoned. I got to the mile 12 marker and snapped a pic and texted it to my husband.

Mile 12-finish: Right after the 12 mile mark, a volunteer told me I was almost there. No, I'm not, shut up. I didn't say that out loud. I said "Not close enough".  At mile 12.5 I lost the ability to hold my shit together. The tears started and didn't stop. The song that popped up on my playlist did not help. Whoever put "The Story" by Brandi Carlile on my running playlist is an idiot (that would be me).
I got to the roundabout and was told to go to the right and the finish was downhill. Thanks, but downhill is not a blessing right now. I could hear the announcer and see the finish line just around the corner. All I wanted to do was cross that line and be DONE.
About that time, I saw Tes, and my two RunningNerd girls standing by the finish line. They started calling out my name and cheering me on. I reached down and pulled out some last bit of energy and sprinted across the finish.
My husband took a video of me crossing the finish and it still makes me tear up to watch it. You can see me wiping tears from my face. He came over and hugged me and I just started bawling. I said "I'm done. I have nothing left"

I couldn't stand, but I couldn't really sit either. Everything hurt. I took a moment to look for Tes and the other girls so I could thank them for cheering me on throughout the race. I found one girl, but wasn't able to find the other, or Tes.

I was ready to get to the car, and the ice packs I had brought in a cooler. We walked over to where the trolley was taking people the near mile back to parking. We didn't get on the first trolley and had to wait about 15mins for the next one. I sat on the sidewalk and took my shoes off and tried to massage my feet and stretch out my legs. things were starting to seize up and I just really wanted to be in my car heading home.
The trolley pulled up and I got up and hobbled to the steps. Just as I was getting on, a woman in a volunteer shirt cut in front of me and swooped in and took the last seat. The rest of us were packed in, literally smooshed up against each other, standing, holding on to the strap. As the trolley moved, I was swaying back and forth and felt sicker and sicker. My stomach was not happy. As I stood there, trying not to puke, I got to listen to this volunteer tell a couple of women how long of a day she'd had. How she ran registration that morning, then headed to the finish to help hand out necklaces. How, when she was walking from the start to the finish, a trolley stopped for her, and they joked about how he wasn't supposed to do that, so don't tell anyone. Oh, hahaha, what an amusing story. Not really.

Which pretty much summed up how I felt about the race. I've since seen a lot of other comments that concur with my opinion. A lot of people felt that the race was poorly organized and that some of the volunteers were less than desirable.
There was no GU on the course, like advertised. I didn't bother with the after-party, but I've heard the massages were also missing, and the lunch was pretty sparse. Apparently you had to pay for bananas, too. I've never been to a race where bananas weren't part of the finish line fare.

Compare that to the MUCH smaller 10K I did a week prior in San Francisco, where they were giving out chocolate milk, coconut water, a pancake breakfast, and beer ...ALL FREE.

I've already signed up for another half marathon, but I can't see myself doing Zooma again.

April 18, 2012

Birthday weekend in San Francisco.
I had never been to San Francisco, but I always felt like I needed to go. The city fascinated me. I’m not sure how it all came about, but we had some free tickets that needed to be used, so we booked a flight for my birthday.
We got up early Friday morning and headed to the airport. Smooth sailing to the west coast and we were landed and in our hotel by noon. We spent Friday just exploring the city a bit. One day I will run those hills!
Saturday, we got up and went for a drive through the mountains and visited Sonoma. Then we spent the evening at the piers and Fisherman’s Wharf.
There was a race on Sunday morning. I had gone back and forth about doing it or not. On the one hand, how often would I be in San Francisco to run a race across the Golden Gate Bridge. On the other hand, did I really want to spend a vacation doing a run. Also, my husband is NOT into races at all, and hates standing around waiting for me to finish one. I really didn’t want to inconvenience him. We talked about me just running the bridge, but it just didn’t feel the same to me.
I got up at 6:30 Sunday morning, and by 7 we had decided to do the race. It started at 8. As a result, I jumped up, got dressed and ran out the door. No breakfast, no usual pre-race ritual. I resigned myself to just sitting back and enjoying myself and not worrying about time or anything else. We got to the starting point just as the 10 milers were starting out. I paid my registration fee, got my bib and t-shirt and handed it off to my husband, waited in the line for the bathroom and that left me with just a few mins before the 10k’rs started. I told my husband I’d see him in an hour and a half, and off we went.
There was a nice incline leading up to the bridge. I knew I could run up it, but I reminded myself that I was out to have a good time, not run hard and wear myself out. I slowed to a walk and snapped a couple pics.
On to the bridge. It was crowded and congested. People were stopping to take pics. We were herded on to the narrow walking path so stopping to take pics just made things more congested. I spent a bit of time weaving my way through the people who were walking or chatting or stopping. I reminded myself the whole race to calm down, not race this, enjoy the scenery. How often was I going to run this again!
We got across the bridge and went down the stairs and under the bridge to the other side to start the trek back. People were much better spaced out at this point and it was a very enjoyable, and quick run back. It was also windy. I loved it.
Came off the bridge on the other side and had to weave around some buildings and back under the bridges toll station to some volunteers waiting to cheer us on. I glanced at my Garmin and I was almost at 5miles at 1:09. Holy was I making good time!
Back towards the start, we zigged instead of zagged to get that last 1.2 miles in. Down and back along the coastline. This is where it got difficult. It was a hard packed sand trail with gravel on top. This is not something I’m used to running on and I found it hard to get traction. Instead of fighting the path, I stopped often to walk it. When the finish line was within site, I put on the gas and made a sprint for the end.
I cross the finish at 1:29:57
Almost 10mins better than my last 10K.
Without trying
And I felt great afterwards

April 8, 2012

It’s hard to believe that 2 weeks from today, 2 weeks from this very moment, I will be running my first half marathon. The girl who didn’t run, unless she was being chased. The girl who joked that the whole reason she was a brown belt in karate was so she wouldn’t HAVE to run from someone chasing her. The girl who thought nothing of jumping on a bike and peddling 75 miles (yes, in one day), but running to the mailbox was out of the question.
2!! Weeks!!
It started in Oct. When I ran my last 10K and was so terribly unprepared that even beating my Peachtree time wasn’t good enough. When my legs started protesting less than a mile in, and they hurt for 2 days straight. Laying in bed that evening unable to roll over. Struggling to get myself to the airport, and fly home on legs that just didn’t want to move, ever. I swore then that I would never run another race that unprepared. I started running at least 3 days a week. I got someone to coach me ( www.uphillrunning.com ), and in Jan we started weekly workouts. Only ONCE did I “cheat” and do the workout on the treadmill. Some weeks were tough. Some workouts were tough. But, I got through them. And now here we are at 2 weeks from the half. What have I gotten for all my training?
Well, I’m not really faster. I’ve learned the value of intervals, but the combo of walking and running still puts me around the 15min/mile mark. But, last week I pushed myself. I had a 12mile run on the schedule and something in my head said “If I can do 12, I can do 13” so instead of going out 2miles to the turn around point and coming back (after 8miles). I went 2.5 miles before turning back. I’m not gonna lie, it was hard. It sucked. I cried around mile 12. But, I did it. And what’s more, I was still able to do about my day. My legs weren’t dead. Oh, they were tired, and I had some knee pain that I had to ice, but, I still took my daughter to her friends house, I still fed my friend’s dogs. The next morning I was able to get out of bed. All things I wasn’t able to do back in Oct after that 10K.
This is all progress. Even if I come in dead last. Even if I come in past the 3.5hr course limit. I have still gotten myself to the point where I can do a half marathon.
And you know what, last place crosses the same finish line that first place crosses.

March 23, 2012

After thinking I had gotten over my mental hump, and having a few really good running weeks…I had an awful week.
During one of my runs, I got to the point where I was so spent, that I crouched on the side of the road and willed myself not to cry. Then I walked home and didn’t finish the workout.
My coach told me to take it easy this week and “reset”. My first thoughts were how can I manage to do that? What will I do if I’m not runing?
Then the pollen count went over 9300 and I couldn’t breathe and my whole face hurt and there was no way I could WALK outside, let alone run. Just getting the cocktail of meds right so I could sleep was enough of a challenge.
I havent run all week.
The result is…I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ve gone from dreading my workouts to looking forward to getting back to it.
Reset indeed

March 8, 2012

Is it, maybe, time for my monthly update?
So, Feb….for being the shortest month of the year, I certainly packed it full of stuff.
Here’s my typical schedule:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday (and recently starting adding Saturdays)
Teach at the studio-
Try to get to another class at the studio-
Umm, whenever I get a chance?? sometimes I would stay after my class on Mondays and take the Zumba class afterwards. Tuesday is a total rest day, and I take full advantage of it.
So, lets run through my week…..Monday, get up and go run. Teach a weight class in the evening, and then sometimes stay for a Zumba class. Tuesday..sit on the couch and catch up on my DVR, and throw some laundry in the wash. Maybe sweep the floors. Weds, get up and run. Sometimes take a ballroom dance class in the evening (but I’m taking 6 weeks off because of a schedule conflict). Thursday, get in an active recovery walk, teach a weight class in the evening. Friday, get up and run . Saturday, get up and run….then cater to the demands of a house full of people (I am a wife and mom, after all). Sunday, do as little as possible.
Are you tired? Cause I’m just catching my second wind.
So, how it is all going? Surprisingly well, actually. I was worried about how it would all fall into place, but it is. I’m putting more responsibility on my kids on my teaching days. they are old enough (17, 15, 12). I put them in charge of dinner (I make sure there are leftovers on those days) and cleaning up the kitchen while I’m gone.
My body is adapting quickly to the extra strain. My weight class is improving my running and my running is improving my weight class (really, you should see my squat. Even when I was teaching full time, I didn’t have that good of a squat)
So, running….I’ll be honest, I had a couple of mentally tough weeks. I know it was in my head. I think it was finding the balance. I’m getting over my mental humps and I’m having way more good run days than bad. I’m pushing myself, working my route so that I’m running uphills that I would normally try to avoid.
Yesterday, I was so into my pace that I misjudged where I was in relation to how much time I had left in my workout and ended up “finishing” a mile from my house. So, I just jogged it home.
Pushing the distance is bringing up an old knee ache. At the beginning of the year, I started having a knee twinge that would start up at around 3 miles and prevented me from running past 4. I just had to push past it and eventually, it stopped. yesterday when I got to 6miles, the pain came back. I ran through it, which might not have been the best idea. I finished up at 6.62 miles, came home and iced it, but it still bugged me all day. I’m icing it again today. I’m hoping it will be like before and I just keep plugging away and eventually it will go away.
A couple of things on the horizon… On March 24th, there is a 5K at the local elementary school. The school is about 2 miles from my house, and along my normal running route. I plan to get up a little earlier and run to the school, do the 5K, then run home. I wont be “racing”, just using it as a fun training run.
In April, right before my half, I’m taking a trip to San Francisco for my birthday. The weekend we are there, there’s a 10K going on. I’m throwing around the idea of doing that, too. Again, not as a race, but a really cool training run. It’s not every day I get to run across the Golden Gate Bridge.
The half is just a little more than 6 weeks away. I’m still not sure how I’m gonna get there, but I’m trusting the process. I will finish!

Jan 29, 2012

Wow, so, I’ve slacked on this thing, huh?
Let’s see. I got through December. I took an unintentional break from nearly everything…Zumba, Ballroom, and almost running. I went down to running only 1 or 2 days a week.
On Dec 31st, I ran the Flashlight 5K sponsored by a local church. I was determined to run the whole thing. Seemed easy enough since I’d been running twice the distance during training, but when it comes to race day, it’s easy to fall into old habits. I did it, though. I finished with a PR for a 5K event, 43:17. Not fast, but an improvement, and I’ll take it.
Right after New Year’s, things started falling into place. My running coach started sending me weekly workouts. Accountability, you complete me. It’s all laid out for me. I don’t have the think about it, or wonder what my distance/time should be today. I just follow the schedule. Today officially marks 12 weeks until my first Half Marathon. I’m scared and excited all at once.
I got back into ballroom dancing. Working on a Rumba performance for Feb. I’m not back in weekly classes yet, but I’ll get there. I’m thinking of switching to Latin ballroom and using it as a tax write off, lol. Which brings me to zumba
The studio finally opened. Yesterday was out Grand Opening celebration. I went a little crazy and allowed self doubt to creep in. I felt unprepared. Everything went off without a hitch, and the energy and excitement makes me want to move forward with getting Zumba certified. I had said I wasn’t going to do it, but something changed yesterday. I don’t want to be the mean one that makes people lift weights and wake up sore the next morning. I want to be part of the party.
It could happen by Spring.


(Originally posted Dec 19, 2011)

So, I hate Winter. December thru Feb is torture. My instinct is to hunker down and wait for March. I do a lot of talking myself through the months. Dec brings Christmas, then it’s practically January, which brings us to Feb and that’s a short month and by March, Spring is just around the corner and I can breathe again.
Activity helps. Rountine helps. Holidays through a monkey wrench into both.
I start teaching my weight class in January when the studio opens. Because of all the last minute things needing to be finished at the studio, Zumba classes were canceled. That’s 4 weeks of no classes.
Where I could normally set a running schedule and stick to it, December brings a whole mess of mental road blocks. I get into funks where I know it’s either go for a run, or curl up in a ball, but the thought of running makes me want to curl up in a ball. My inner monologue keeps telling me to just get up and put on the runnig clothes. If I can get the clothes on, I’m more likely to get out and run. Since my route is now out my front door, I dont have to put any effort into driving somewhere, a plus.
So, I just keep telling myself, get up, put one foot in front of the other, keep moving to keep moving, Spring is just around the corner

Here's the thing

(Originally posted Nov. 9, 2011)

Running is a chore. For me anyway. Just like loading the dishwasher or doing laundry or taking the car for an oil change. It’s just another thing that needs to be done. And I’d much rather sit on teh couch watching my DVR’s episodes of Dexter eating a bag of chips or a Moe’s burrito (Mmmmm, Moe’s) than do any of those things.
Running beats the shit out of you. It chews you up and spits you out and asks you who the fuck you think you are. It’s way more mental than physical, and the physical is a bitch.
But my house can’t function if the laundry isn’t done, or the dishwasher isn’t ran, and my car will leave me starnded if I don’t get the oil changed.
Dexter will be there, waiting for me on the DVR, but the running can’t wait.
I’ll never run a marathon if I don’t do the work.
I know, it can be argued that no one NEEDS to run a marathon. This is true. And the fact remains that I may never run one. But I can try. I have two legs that function. That’s more than some people have. I have the ability, I shouldn’t squander it.
So, whether it’s a 4 min mile or a 14 min mile, it’s still a mile. One after another after another.